Dear Professor, Be Careful with Those Tweets, OK? Academic Freedom and Social Media

Dear Professor, Be Careful with Those Tweets, OK? Academic Freedom and Social Media

By Gloria C. Cox, University of North Texas

As faculty members, we rely on academic freedom to protect us as we teach, engage in scholarly research, and live as citizens of a community. The American Association of University Professors is the accepted authority in matters of academic freedom, and its guidelines explain protections in teaching, research, and extramural utterances. This article argues that the characteristics of social media and the concerns of academic institutions about their reputation have created an atmosphere that make extramural utterances more vulnerable and riskier than in the past. Some institutions even monitor the social media postings of faculty members and act on such postings, openly criticizing and even disavowing or punishing them for their utterances. I consider these issues and make a modest proposal that may improve the environment for extramural utterances by faculty members.

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